Chinese President Xi Jinping is deemed certain to be re-elected as the top leader of the Chinese Communist Party for another five years in this fall’s party congress, which is held once every five years. Xi’s grip on power as a “core leader” now seems unshakable. His authoritarian political approach on the strength of increased concentration of power around him, however, risks breeding sources of long-term instability. Xi should use his unrivaled power instead to pursue democratic reforms to widen the scope of people’s political freedom, which will contribute to making China a more trusted major power open to the rest of the world.

Xi’s anti-corruption campaign that began when he took the helm in 2012 has earned him popular support. His hard-line diplomacy has been punctuated by China’s increasing assertive maritime postures, such as its alleged militarization of disputed territories in the South China Sea. But while he pushes political regimentation at home, including a crackdown on dissident speech, sources of popular discontent such as the growing rich-poor divide and environmental problems remain deep-seated and threaten to grow as the country’s once breakneck-speed economic growth rapidly decelerates.

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